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Rishi Sunak pledged a "rural rollout plan" for electric vehicles: are rural areas being left behind

The AA has called for a greater number of charge points on the streets for people who don’t have a driveway or garage. Head of Roads Policy Jack Cousens says the government is slow to act on EV charger goals and “huge swathes of the country are without affordable, reliable charge points.

Are rural areas being left behind in the journey towards lower emissions and what is being done about it?

How many charge points are there in the UK?

Volkswagen Financial Services states there are 833,000 EVs in the UK and Zap-Map’s figures show there are just 34,000 charge points available. That’s just 4%!

The average number of EV chargers in the UK is just 48 per 100,000 (a measly 0.048%).

London isn’t just the capital city, it is also the capital of EV chargers in the UK! It boasts 116 chargers per 100,000 people, compared to just 27 chargers in Birmingham.

Are rural areas being left behind?

Studies from the County Councils Network (CCN) reveal that there are more EV charge points available in London (7865) than all of England’s counties (7781).

In these counties, EV chargers are on average 16 miles apart compared to London which has one charger per mile and the 8 largest cities which are 6 miles apart.

Government grants given to local authorities to aid installation of on-street chargers is a good idea. However, 2071 grants installed or approved are for London and just 494 are in rural areas.

The country’s county areas are home to half of the population, yet just 35% of EVs are registered there. However, it is more important to have adequate charging solutions in rural areas where people have a greater reliance on cars for commuting due to a lack of public transport.

This means rural residents who don’t have access to chargers on their driveway or in their garage are unlikely to purchase an EV due to a lack of public infrastructure.

Consequently, a rural business with EV chargers on their premises may be providing the only solution for EV drivers.

Also, a lack of EV chargers is particularly damaging to places such as Devon and Cumbria which see a large number of visitors.

This isn’t a simple problem to solve, and rural areas have experienced this kind of technological lag before with the sluggish introduction of superfast broadband into rural areas.

What is being done for rural areas?

Mark Fields, interim chief executive of Hertz, asks, “How do we democratize access to electric vehicles?”

Good question, Mark.

In 2021s budget discussions, ex-Chancellor Rishi Sunak and CPRE’s chief executive Crispin Truman highlighted a major issue for local transport for people living outside of major areas, commenting rural areas don’t “get a look in”.

The Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure report published in March 2022 outlines help that will be offered to local authorities to combat such issues. For example, they opened with the Workplace Charging Scheme (WCS) in the hopes of electrifying company fleets and to encourage staff to make the switch to electric vehicles. The WCS aims to “accelerate EV uptake in rural areas” as well as supporting the tourist industry.

The government is also encouraging local authorities to integrate EV charging points into the local community. For example, adapting lampposts, bollards, and car parks into charging points.

This isn’t a quick solution, however. It is a long-term plan to support rural areas who don’t have the existing EV infrastructure of bigger cities.

Overall, it’s clear that more needs to be done to roll-out EV charging infrastructure to rural areas. To have charging points in your home or business, get in touch on 01827 211600!


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